Ups and Downs

General log update for the day.

The tanks are still chugging along, plants are thickening up nicely. In the 20 gallon I had to trim down and spread out the Wisteria as it has really taken off, one stem in particular has gone crazy. I’ve also replenished the root tabs as we’ve hit the 3 month mark. In the 10 gallon the Wisteria, again, had to be trimmed back. This is defiantly the all star plant for growth that I have.

I’m surprised that the Amazon Frogbit floating in the tanks hasn’t taken off. It’s growing, but slowly which I feel is unusual as people often claim they must thin it out weekly from their tanks. A couple possible reasons, not enough nutrients or the water is too soft (which is really again just a lack of nutrients). I’ve increased the dose of Flourish Comprehensive to twice weekly to see if that helps. I’ve also ordered Seachem Equilibrium to raise my water from 1.9-2.5 dGH to somewhere in the area of 4.9-5.5 dGH. I’ve read that 3 dGH is the minimum for plants so I want to bump that up and see what happens. Equilibrium is formulated in a way that it will only increase GH while leaving KH (and thus pH) alone.

In addition to the Wisteria taking off, my Red Tiger Lotus has also gone mad, shooting up a new leaf every 3 or so days, and all of them are staying fairly low to the substrate. I moved the sand castle that houses the Java Fern a little to the left and forward to give the Amazon Sword more room, and to keep the Java Fern from touching the heater. This is causing the Java Fern to somewhat shade the Red Tiger Lotus and it isn’t happy about that. It’s sending its leaves up to clear the Java Fern, but that’s okay. Believe it or not but I actually wanted it to send leaves up to the surface so they could provide shade, which is the opposite of what most people want it seams. Oh well, it’s truly a nice looking plant.

Here are a pair of photos showing off the tanks.

10 Gallon April 5 2012

10 Gallon April 5 2012

20 Gallon April 5 2012

20 Gallon April 5 2012

Red Tiger Lotus

Red Tiger Lotus New Growth

Unfortunately I did come across a problem. One of my Oto Catfish developed what I’m guessing is an injury. I can only assume that one of the Serpae Tetra chomped onto his back end because there is red going all the way around his body. It dosen’t fit the pictures for any disease that I could find, so I don’t believe he was sick. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive so I am down one Oto.

 

Hurt Oto Catfish

Hurt Oto Catfish

To see if it was a water quality issue I tested everything in the tank. The pH has dropped to 6.4 which wasn’t unexpected. It has slowly been going down from the 7.2 I started at since my KH is so low and 6.4 is a good number for soft water fish like what I keep. Ammonia is 0 ppm and Nitrite is also 0 ppm which is perfect. The Nitrates however were by best guess 20 ppm which is higher than I’d like, I prefer it to be more around the 5 ppm mark. It’s hard to tell though, on the color card 10 ppm and 20 ppm look far too similar. To be safe I changed an extra bucket of water during my weekly water change (6 gallons instead of my usual 4). I may have to continue doing a 3 bucket change to keep the Nitrates as low as possible. I know 20 ppm isn’t something to worry over, most people with non-planted tanks see values of 40 ppm or higher, but still, planted tanks should be fairly close to 0 ppm.

For the 125 gallon I haven’t posted any updates recently. The project is still moving along. New carpet is getting installed this week which is the first major objective to getting this thing on the road. The next is the stand, I have the basic frame 99% completed and even have the inside completely painted. The only thing left to make the frame 100% is to cut access holes in the back plywood for hoses and power cords to go through. Then to finish out the stand I need to skin it in oak and put the trim on. I’ve had the oak plywood on hand for weeks, but am just nervous on actually cutting it. The cost is very high for the plywood so any mistakes will make a huge dent to the wallet. I’ll have to get on that this week though so I can buy the trim and get the entire thing stained so it can hopefully be ready this next weekend to start setting up.

After the stand is completed, and the carpet is installed, it will be time to do the hardscape. I’ll need to shop around some local landscape supply stores to try and find some very coarse sand which is more like gravel but 1-2 mm in size. If I can’t find any, I’ll just go with play sand which is very inexpensive but does require an enormous amount of cleaning. The hardest part of the hardscape will be the terraces and I’m still not 100% sure on how I’m going to go about it. People have said styrofoam, but I’ve also read that it can break apart when kept under water and I don’t want to deal with that sometime down the road. I’ll probably have to find some bricks to use, small ones.

Then once all that grunt work is done, it will be time for the fun part, finally! Ordering plants and stocking with fish! I already have the equipment on hand. A canister filter, two 300W heaters, two floating thermometers, and a 48″ dual T8 light fixture with two 6500K bulbs. For the canister filter I have the Fluval ceramic pre-filter rings, a sponge, filter floss, and some bio rings. I don’t think the bio rings will be necessary with all the plants but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Wish me luck!

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